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Gut. Feb 2001; 48(2): 272–282.
PMCID: PMC1728206

Treatment of irritable bowel syndrome: a review of randomised controlled trials


Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common chronic disorder that is associated with significant disability and health care costs. The purpose of this paper is to review and assess published randomised controlled trials examining the clinical effectiveness of interventions for IBS for 1987-1998. A literature search was conducted to identify randomised controlled trials of IBS treatments: 45 studies were identified that described randomised controlled trials and of these, six fulfilled all three criteria used to assess the quality of randomised controlled trials, as described by Jadad and colleagues.1 These criteria are: adequate description of randomisation, double blinding, and description of withdrawals and dropouts. It is concluded that there are few studies which offer convincing evidence of effectiveness in treating the IBS symptom complex. This review strongly suggests that future work should include well designed trials that: describe the randomisation method; use internationally approved diagnostic criteria; and are double blinded and placebo controlled. Clear well defined outcome measures are necessary. Inclusion of quality of life measures allows comparison between trials in different therapeutic areas. Conducting such studies will help to overcome some of the difficulties identified in this review.

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Selected References

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